Day 3, Sunday, May 22 – Nijmegen, Netherlands to Wesel, Germany

Sunday 22 May 2011

We awoke to the sound of a lovely Sunday morning rain, perfect time to roll over and sleep in…..wait a minute, this sounds like a line out of Kurt’s book of “why I’m late”, excuses.
The smell of coffee finally pulled us from our cozy bed, so we stumbled downstairs for another hearty breakfast, complete with Brotchen (THE most wonderful breakfast roll).

It would have been a lovely town to spend the morning, but with our short ride yesterday, we were both ready to ride.

Once again, as the church bell tolled 10 am, we rode out of town during a break in the showers.

Actually, the break in showers turned into a beautiful day.  In a word, a Magnificent morning ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were not the only ones enjoying a Sunday morning ride.

With the bike path like this, you can’t but help wanting to ride, everyday.  At some point during all the beautiful countryside, we unceremoniously crossed the German border, though we cannot tell you exactly where.

A shout goes out to Klaas, whom we met last evening and blew by us today on his 100 kilometer ride (sorry we couldn’t join you).

A side note from yesterday, and probably again during our travels:  we are actually traveling UP the River Rhine.  Which gives us a certain amount of satisfaction when we pass the river barges as they struggle UP river.  So if we again mention, down the river, we have not changed directions (yet) just a mistake!

I was informed today, however, if we don’t do 50 miles a day, we’ll not make it to Istanbul this year.  So either we’re not making it to Istanbul, or we’re not making it home this year.

We crossed the longest bridge in Germany (3/4 mile)

into Emmerich am Rhine, the most destroyed (bombed) German city during World War II.  The town seems to have recovered beautifully as we biked over brick paved roads and past beautiful old churches on our way out of town down along a dedicated bike path.

After about an hour with the wind at our back and feeling good, we decided to go the more scenic route.  So we took a turn into the town of Rees.

Though there was a huge street party, we managed to get out of town unscathed.  Probably should have stayed for the party as we somehow strayed way off course.  It was satisfying though, that the sport car road rally followed us down our wayward road.  As the road turned to dirt, everyone realized a backtrack was necessary.

Back on track, we still had another 15 miles to town.   Though the wind had gotten very gusty and the sky threatened rain,

the day was still fabulous.

By 5:00 we made our destination town, Wesel,  a quick beer

and a hotel by 6:00.  We had talked about having a traditional German dinner and didn’t have to walk far.  The first restaurant we came to,

Galland Restaurant was all German food, all German menu, all German waiters and no English spoken, except us.  We managed to order the two things we almost recognized and were not disappointed.  The restaurant treated us to an after dinner aperitif to put a perfect finish on a perfect meal and day!

Day 4, Monday, May 23 – Wesel to Dusseldorf, Germany

Monday 23 May 2011

Breakfast at our hotel was earlier this morning, so we were able to get on the road by 8:30, good thing as we had a lot of miles to cover.  It was a very chilly morning with a rather stiff head wind.  The same wind we enjoyed at our back yesterday, we will pay for today.  We started down a beautiful bike path that quickly changed to mixed paved and gravel.

And though there was a mix of every kind of road/path surface today as we pedaled south UP the Rhein we were still afforded pretty fields of poppies,

old stone churches

and precious little lambs.

The river and tributaries are very low, due to lack of rain, but the swans

seem perfectly happy. In fairness, though, we must point out that most of the ride today was through industrial areas

but it was still a pretty ride, except for that blasted head wind.

We took several detours today, trying to find our way.  Since so many people bike here, EVERY path is a bike path; finding the one WE are supposed to be on has proven to be difficult.  Though we brought a book/map with us for this intended course, it has not been terrible helpful.

We finally found someone that spoke English AND knew the way into town.  He directed us across the river for a scenic

and quite ride through farm fields and by small villages.  Small villages just outside Dusseldorf were very enchanting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and almost lured us to stay. But we made it to Dusseldorf, Germany’s richest city.

We strolled the streets and watched WAY too expensive cars enjoy the afternoon drive.  Another Italian dinner, it’s the only thing we seem to understand on a menu, and in for the night.

 

 

Day 5, Tuesday, May 24 – Dusseldorf to Koln/Cologne, Germany

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Before we post, before a single picture, we must say that today was probably THE most incredible day we have ever had on tour.  The PINNACLE -Düsseldorf and Köln and everything in between – Recommend it Highly.   There are so many things to share, we hope to do the day justice.

One Note:  since there are a LOT of pictures on today’s post, you can see them all larger  by clicking on one and follow the arrow on the right….Enjoy!
First, we would return to the Hotel Cascade in Düsseldorf if for no other reason than the breakfast.  When we checked in last night, the clerk mentioned they had a ‘very good breakfast’ – they have an Incredible breakfast and beautiful room with windows to the garden.

Besides the usual abundant fare of meats, cheeses and breads, there were several different homemade jams, caprese, eggs, bacon and sausage, several fruits, yogurts (several varieties).  One cannot eat all the choices in one sitting – and I’m not a breakfast person……just incredible.
Okay, then we venture out into an overcast, cold, windy day that could not be more perfect.  The wind we faced yesterday in our face, had turned quite blustery, but it was now at our back – it was a glorious day.  By all estimations we had a 70 kilometer ride ahead of us which was very unfortunate given our very late start.  We’ll skip the excuses, but we were advised by our German tour guide (insert a big fancy word that neither or us can remember) but our dear Vatti recommended we visit the  Konigs Alee Strasse before we left Dusseldorf.  O.M.G. Rodeo Drive has NOTHING on this place.

Everything you could possibly want to buy, that costs WAY more than we could possibly afford, could be found here.  The only actual shopping we did was for our computer and imagine the grumps we found.

We had to get some money exchanged so we stopped at a couple of banks.  The first could not help, so they sent us to Deutshe Bank.  I felt like the little children in Mary Poppins going into their father’s bank, it was massive and incredible.  Luckily, I was not chased out and was able to complete my transaction, but the experience was worth whatever the outcome.

Dusseldorf also has some incredible architecture, old and new;  you could spend a week in this town and not do or see it all.

Somehow, with the wind at your back the trails become better.  In reality, we really did have beautiful paths along the Rhein.

Shortly before our destination we came into a very industrial area that didn’t register on our maps, nor were there good bike signs.   As we sat trying to figure out which way to go, a biker rides by and somehow, Jerry assumed that we should follow the gentleman.  He rides up beside him and starts asking directions; rather hysterical, Jerry speaking German (in English) to a German that speaks NO English.

It was an Excellent decision, though.  He lead us through areas that would have taken us hours to navigate, the most of which was a Ford plant so large it had three individual train stops.  About the time the gentlemen got us into town, a beautiful young lady, Alex (who does speak English), lead us into town and gave us the ‘where we were’ story.

Stopping at tourist information, we were informed there was a HUGE “fair” in town and rooms were scarce.  Luckily, we found one, right on the Rhein

with outside restaurants and cafes everywhere.

We quickly checked in as we had to see the Köln Dom/Cologne Cathedral before it got too late.  To learn more about this Cathedral that began construction in 1248 AD Click Here, incredible history.

On our stroll back to the hotel, we soon discovered what ‘fair” was in town……..a Wein Fair……..that means WINE in English……..and it lasts for 10 days, TODAY being the first day.  Wine and food and people enjoying themselves everywhere,

MOST incredible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So if our Spot tracker does not change for several days, you will know why.  The following are just a few of the pictures to capture our evening before we finally tore ourselves away to go to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The BEST red wine either of us have ever had; and we may hit the vineyard on our way south.

Can’t say das kinder were enjoying the wine festival, but the parents certainly knew how to keep them entertained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gutte Nacht!

 

Day 6, Wednesday, May 25 – Koln/Cologne to Kripp, Germany

Thursday 26 May 2011

Beautiful, beautiful day.  Sorry if we get redundant, this ride is just so incredible it is tough not to do.  Cool and crisp with the wind in our face (we are apparently on an every other day schedule with the wind), but luckily not as fierce as yesterday.  One last glimpse of the Cologne Cathedral as we cross the Rhein.

We’ll keep the wording brief and just fill in with photos of our trip south on the River Rhein

through small villages, beautiful churches, fabulous bike paths.

The contrast of new and old is striking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoroughly enjoyable and peaceful ride!

We passed Bonn, the capital city of Germany.  Though our path did not lead us through the middle of the city, we were able to catch a glimpse of the German parliament building.

Just south of Bonn is the enchanting town of Bad Honnef, a place of very special memories for me with my family as a very young girl.  We spent an hour or two in town, taking pictures of the little chapel where my parents were engaged,

and the Drachenfels (the castle ruins at the top of the hill), I think a dragon was slayed there, but vague on the details.

But the day was still young and the weather too wonderful to stop, so we continued on.

We passed by through Ramegen; the Remagen Bridge was one of the major crossing points over the Rhein by the U.S. forces in WW II.  The remnants (I believe) are in the picture above on the left.

 

We decided to go one town further to Kripp, smaller scale and quieter and a beautiful view of Linz across the water.  We dined on Jägerschnitzel and Gorgonzolaschnitzel; Jerry and I will look like good healthy Germans by the time we get out of this country.

Day 7, Thursday, May 26 – Kripp to Koblenz, Germany

Thursday 26 May 2011

Today is a scheduled short ride as they are calling for rain and we should take a day off.  However, if the cool temperatures and 25 mph winds in our face are any indication, it could be a long, short ride.  Four miles into our ride we came upon the very cute town of Bad Bresig.

Jim and/or Nick if you’re mapping this trip, skip Kripp and stay here for the evening, very charming.   We enjoyed a entertaining conversation with a proprietor of a restaurant; once again proving that neither person has to speak the other’s language to share a laugh.

There were castles on both sides of the river, most we saw from afar.

We  were able to see the Namedy Castle; quickly passing through the gates taking a couple of photos then out again.

 

 

 

Our course lead us through some countryside then back to the Rhein.  Dropping us into the town of Andernach, originally a Celtic settlement and later a Roman fort.

 

We are truly living in a fairy tale on this ride.  Further emphasized by our arrival in Koblenz.   We pulled into town as the church bells from all sides of both rivers began tolling, it is an incredible sound.  This city was one of the earliest Roman settlements in Germany – then called Confluentes, because it was at the confluence of the two rivers, Rhein and Mosel.

Besides the history and castles, Koblenz is also know for the vineyards, time to check them out!

Apparently, it is also know for it’s flower festival

that keeps the hotel rooms totally booked for six months.  The Germans really know how to do festival, good for them, not so good for us!  We were luckily to find a lovely room on the fifth floor right on the Rhein.  Remind us to tell you about taking our bags up stairs.

The town is filled with castles, shops and lots of places to enjoy life!

As we sign off for the evening, two shocking/amazing things to us.  The amount of people that smoke is unbelievable.  Almost as many people eat ice cream, but I don’t think any of them enjoy it as much as this young lady.

And as the gentleman in Bad Bresig told Jerry this morning, Gutte Farht!

Day 8, Friday, May 27 – Koblenz to Mainz, Germany

Friday 27 May 2011

It was a cold, windy morning (50 degrees) and forecast was calling for rain.  Still beautiful buildings

 

and gardens on our way out of town.

Once again, it was an enchanting morning of castles and vineyards,

vineyards and castles.

This castle, Schloss Stolzenfels,

was known for it’s 19th century style of living, can you image?

Luckily for all (I am sure) one of the camera’s batteries died, so we didn’t get shots of Every Single Castle to be seen along the Rhein; and that is a Lot!

The ride was not without the beautiful small towns

at every turn in the ever snaking river.

We stopped for lunch in Bingen Am Rhein

at a little butcher shop

that served a divine lunch, Bratwurst mit gravy, mashed potatoes und green beans.

On our afternoon bicycle stroll through the countryside, we ran into Reinhold and Christoph,

brothers that enjoyed biking; Reinhold relating his stories of biking in Australia, where he currently lives.  They invited us in for wine, but with 20 miles left to go, we knew we’d never make it all the way, if we took them up on their offer.

At 50 miles the threat of rain was real.  We tried to outrun it and actually beat most of the rain drops.  But we flew the last 14 miles, to make sure we did not get drenched; quickly passing small gardens and farmettes.  Finally made it  (64 miles) to our destination, Mainz, 13 B.C..  The town (among other things) is the center of German wine trade; hoping to find the one we fell in love with in Koln.  Also, the Gutenberg Press did their first moveable printing here in 1450 A.D.
Didn’t see much (photographable) before dinner and bed, so hopefully will catch a few of the monuments on our way out of town in the morning.

Day 9, Saturday, May 28 – Mainz to Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany

Saturday 28 May 2011

A most incredible breakfast.  Besides the usual fair of Bröchen, 1/2 dozen other breads, eggs, sausage, bacon, yogurts, fresh fruits and jams and cereals there was fresh tomato/mozzarella with pesto oil on the side as well as smoked salmon.  There may have been more, but that’s all we could eat in one sitting.  We really did need to ride.
Without any pictures of the town last night, we were looking forward to seeing something interesting.  Within three blocks we were not disappointed.

A couple more blocks and we were back on the Rhein to glorious sunshine.  Unfortunately, we missed everything else of the city as the path, sidewalk and road was littered with broken glass.  We tiptoed out of town very disappointed.  But soon our trail took us away from the Rhein and through beautiful vineyards and all was good in the world.

It didn’t last long.

Our course directions today were poor (at best) and the road signs worse.  Seems as if every time we are on a straight bike path there are arrows pointing the direction every 100 feet.  But take us through a town and forget it, not a single sign.  We wove laboriously in and out of small towns with rough cobblestone streets, missing chances of any good pictures with the twisting roads to navigate.  Not sure how, but Jerry managed to navigate us through each town without loosing ‘all’ patience.  Not a stretch of the course I would want to do again.
The day, however, was stupendously beautiful, sunshine and a light wind and not without a couple trips down beautiful farmland paths.

Must say we do miss the last couple of days of busy Rhein traffic and hills stretching to the sky on either side of the river.  With most of the river traffic behind us, it was a much quieter river on our brief encounters with it today.

By 1:00, we were quickly approaching our destination town of Worms, we took a break and had lunch.  Jerry ordered the daily special (note 2 heaping piles of INCREDIBLE German potato salad), since he’d done so well with the daily special the day before.

I wanted something small, recognized tomato and cheese ‘something’, based on the price figured it could be but so big…

…….WRONG.  And of course, you need to wash this down with something…………..

Warning:  stay out of the way of moving forks and knives.

So, now both of us feeling incredibly guilty decided to go further, to work off some of our divine lunch.  Little did we know the light breeze we had earlier would turn into an in your face wind.  A quick trip through Worms, did produce a couple interesting sights.

We finally reached our ‘new’ destination town at 3:30, but took us until 5 pm to find a hotel.  Though Ludwigshafen am Rhein is large, there are very few hotels; not really a destination city.  However, from the 17th floor bar, we had an incredible view of this industrial city and Mannheim across the Rhein.

Still amazed at how many people smoke, but add this to the surprising……….

a vending machine in the lobby of the hotel, that has Bier (beer), Good Bier, in Bottles; of course, there are beer glasses in the room for the true ‘beer snob’.

See you tomorrow.